Community: our greatest influence

Community is a core value at Nilan Johnson Lewis: We will treat each other with respect, and provide an environment where people share a sense of excitement and enjoyment and can flourish in both their personal and professional lives.

Our community involvement is vast. We have a great level of participation from all areas of the Firm, both staff and attorneys. Many volunteer their time and serve on Boards. For a sampling of some of our programs, please see below:

  • Children's and Family Services
  • Food Subsidy Programs
  • Education Programs and Services
  • Vocational Services
  • Employee Charities Matching Program
  • Pro Bono

Children’s and Family Services

Sponsor a Family

This program serves families that are in need and cannot afford to buy Christmas presents.  The family members who utilize the Crisis Nursery make their own wish lists.  Individuals or teams from Nilan Johnson Lewis buy the wish list items as gifts for the families.  Sponsors then drop the gifts off unwrapped at the Nursery and they are delivered to the family by Crisis Nursery staff.

Food Subsidy Programs

Second Harvest Heartland Food Shelf

Nilan Johnson Lewis has raised over $12,000 in the past seven years for the Second Harvest Heartland Food Shelf as part of “Souper Bowl,” a self-initiated in-house event that began in 2005 as a small potluck featuring homemade soups and chili. This event is held the week before the NFL Super Bowl, as an occasion to further the Firm’s commitment to support hunger relief in the Twin Cities community.  The yearly event raises money through a silent auction and donation opportunities.

Cooks for Kids at Greater Minneapolis Crisis Nursery

The Greater Minneapolis Crisis Nursery works in partnership with parents in crisis and the community to strengthen families and prevent child abuse and neglect.  The Nursery is able to feed breakfast, lunch, and dinner to the children in their care through its Cook for Kids program.  Nilan Johnson Lewis teams volunteer to Cook for Kids 4-5 times a year.

Education Programs and Services

Everybody Wins Minnesota

Power Lunch, a signature program of Everybody Wins!, is a lunchtime literacy and mentoring program.  For the past 5 years, a group of 7-10 Nilan Johnson Lewis volunteers have participated in this program and traveled to various schools in the North Minneapolis area.  Power Lunch has emerged as one of the very few programs documented to effectively help at-risk students in reading comprehension, motivation, and academic achievement.

Bethune School Reading Program

Since 2001, the Firm has tutored kindergarteners at Bethune School through the Hennepin County Reading Buddies program.  The school is located in north Minneapolis and is comprised of ethnically and economically diverse students generally lacking English-speaking and reading skills. The program focuses on helping children to read and understand books and encouraging children to study hard and succeed as students.

Vocational Services

Partnership Resources, Inc.

PRI is an organization that provides vocational opportunities for adults with developmental disabilities.  In 2005, the Firm hired one of PRI’s clients, Jackie Kirkpatrick, as part of our administrative staff.  Jackie has been with us for four years.  In early 2008, she was presented with the 2008 Successful Community Living Award from Opportunity Partners, whose mission is to empower individuals with disabilities and special needs to achieve maximum self-sufficiency in the community.  This award recognizes Jackie’s accomplishment of living independently in the community for over five years.  In addition, she has also demonstrated vocational success, good decision making, and developed a strong network of support through her community and friends.

Employee Charities Matching Program

In addition to these programs, Nilan Johnson Lewis supports and recognizes the many organizations in which our employees are involved and has adopted an employee “matching” program designed to support charitable giving by employees and assisting those charities most important to them.

Nilan Johnson Lewis also supports the following community organizations either through direct involvement and/or pro bono work:

  • Minnesota Association of Black Lawyers
  • National Bar Association, which is the nation’s oldest and largest national association of predominately African-American lawyers and judges
  • Minnesota Women Lawyers
  • Minnesota Urban Debate League
  • Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law
  • Open Arms of Minnesota
  • Page Education Foundation
  • Minnesota Hispanic Bar Association
  • Lavender Bar Association
  • OutFront Minnesota
  • Mobility for Independence
  • The Human Rights Campaign banquet as an annual event sponsor
  • National Coming Out Day as a banner sponsor
  • St. Joseph’s Home for Children
  • Artspace Projects, Inc.

Pro Bono

Nilan Johnson Lewis has established a Pro Bono Policy that espouses the principle of equal justice under law for all persons regardless of income.  This support is derived from two of the Firm’s Core Values – diversity and community.  All Firm members recognize the unique ability that attorneys have to serve in a pro bono capacity.  This obligation is one deeply rooted in the tradition of attorneys’ duty to help those less fortunate, separate and apart from any formal procedures or requirements the Firm may adopt.

The Firm strongly encourages its practitioners to volunteer a minimum of 50 hours per year to pro bono services, in support of both this principle and the Firm’s overall dedication to providing equal access to legal services for all people.

Firm members are free to identify the pro bono projects of their choice, although the Firm does promote the creation of teams to work for organizations for which our talents are particularly suited.  The Firm supports its members in their commitment to meeting this 50-hour goal and takes into consideration all pro bono efforts of each practitioner in evaluating his or her performance at year-end.